To Mend What Was Broken

April 4, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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Edith Fenn-Blake knew that she could only find the house at night. Rumors around the village insisted that the very structure itself moved with the travelling moon, careful never to linger in one place lest the rays of sunrise should touch its thatched roof and burn it down. She also knew that it would be in the shadiest, most remote part of the marshy woods to the west of the village, where not even candlelight could shine properly. The being that lived inside was said to love such darkness, the kind thick enough to slide down one’s throat and strangle.

It would be a lie to say that Edith wasn’t afraid. She had been walking through dense, shadowed swampland for nearly an hour, listening to the unsettling sounds of crickets, frogs, and the swishes of alligator tails dipping below the murky black water. Her lantern had dimmed to nothing despite the fact that she had just refilled it upon venturing out, and now the moon was her only source of light, the feeblest sheet of gray in perpetual dark. Still, she pressed on through the sticky muck and prickly cattails, choosing to believe the rumors that those who sought the witch’s house would always make it there alive as long as they had a deal to make with her. Edith clutched her own deal tightly to her chest, feeling it ooze thickly through the burlap bag she carried it in.

She knew she was close when the heavy, green smells of the marshlands changed to the startling and far more unpleasant stink of rotting meat. It hung so copiously on the air that Edith could have sworn that what little fog she could see had a blood-red tint to it. Holding her breath, she trudged forward through the sludge, hearing the sounds of swamp creatures grow fainter until only her own splashes reached her ears. Even the crickets refused to sing.

At last, she caught a glimpse of light in the dense darkness. Like a will-o’-the-wisp, it seemed to hover on the air like a disembodied candle flame, flickering an ominous red. The closer she drew, the more of its surroundings appeared in her night-accustomed eyes. The crimson flame did indeed sit upon a plain white candle, which melted softly into a black candlestick placed on the windowsill of a simple, decrepit, weatherworn hut. It sat in a water-filled clearing at an angle that did not appear structurally sound, its side weighed down by a crawling mass of dark ivy and spiny pink bromeliad flowers. The dew that dripped from their leaves gleamed like blood in the red candlelight.

Standing at the edge of the clearing, Edith found it very difficult to breathe. It truly felt like the oily darkness was trying to slip down her throat and choke the life from her. The air itself tasted like offal. She could not turn back now, however. After the deed she had done to get herself out this far in the marsh, it would be pointless and unforgivable to retreat out of fear. So, steeling herself, she crossed the congealed moat, sinking in right up to her waist at its deepest point. Small, fast-swimming creatures in the water brushed by her ankles, and Edith could not help but think of alligators. No, she believed the rumors – no harm would come to her as long as she had her deal in hand. Shivering, she raised the bag protectively over her head and walked without pause until she had made it to the crooked front door of the witch’s house. With her skirt soaked heavily in pond slime and her feet still sunken in it, she raised a trembling hand and, as per the rules, knocked on the door six times in pairs.

Knock-knock, knock-knock, knock-knock.

Almost immediately, there came an answer from behind the door.

“Yes, come in, Eedie, dearie. I’ve been expecting you. Come in and tell old Nana what you wish for.”

The voice might have sounded like that of a cheery old woman had it not been for the churning, clogged gurgle and the deep, lionlike echo that hide in the undertones of each sickly sweet word. There was a small click, and the door slowly swung inward through the ankle-high water that spilled into the lopsided hut.

Edith was sorely tempted to run back into the dark and jagged trees, which suddenly seemed far more preferable to what lay inside, but the rumors reminded her what would happen if she backed out. She could still see the bodies – or the shredded pieces of them – that they pulled from the river not a day ago. Grasping her bag like a good-luck charm, she crossed the watery threshold into the witch’s house.

The smell was even worse inside, and Edith could plainly seen why. The field-dressed corpses of squirrels, foxes, and what might have been a large dog hung by their tails from the beams crossing the thatched roof, their fluids consistently drip-drip-dripping into the water. Tanned pelts, mounted antlers, and animals skulls of many species decorated the walls, often sporting odd objects like feathers, tiny gems, or hooks full of teeth around their edges. Shelves sat crookedly on the tilted walls, carrying a few books with unreadable titles, tools made of rock and bone, and jars full of thick, opaque liquid. Sometimes one of these jars floated past Edith’s ankles, and she thought she saw some decayed body part or fetus-like animal submerged inside.

Treading carefully, Edith approached a doorway covered by a veil of strings as thin as spider silk and adorned with decayed yellow fingernails instead of beads. From behind, that unnerving voice boomed again.

“Yes, yes, come right in, Eedie, my dear. Don’t be afraid. Nana won’t bite.”

The chilling little laugh that followed made Edith pause, but she shook off her reluctance and pushed her way through the veil, grimacing as she felt all the chipped and moldy little nails graze her skin.

The sight she beheld in the next room would have been enough to drive the sanest man into the darkest lunacy imaginable.

The witch sat at the end of the small room, possibly in a chair, though it was difficult to tell for sure given the water level and her enormous girth. Everything below her head seemed nothing more than a wad of moist, writhing flesh, colored scarlet in the candlelight and marred with boils, bulging veins, and crawling black beetles. Her arms were thin and bony like twigs stuck in her massive, slug-like body. Edith counted almost fifteen capillary-thin fingers per hand. The neck matched the arms in leanness, bending like a vulture’s and ending with a head the exact shape of an oversized potato. Her eyes were full black and beady, almost disappearing in the folds around them, and her mouth stretched quite literally from one ear to the other.

“Ah, Eedie, little child,” the witch said in an almost caring tone. “How wonderful to see you. I hope you are doing well. Oh, and my sincerest apologies about the mess. You know how finicky swamp waters can be during certain moon cycles.”

She laughed again, throwing her head back and widening her mouth to reveal a glistening, cavernous gullet behind rows of tiny, brown, triangular teeth.

Edith was struck silent at first, so horrified at this unthinkably grotesque creature seated before her. Then she swallowed, trying not to gag at the taste of the house going down her throat again, and forced out the words she had practiced on the way here.

“Th-th-thank you, ma’am,” she stammered, “f-for allowing me i-into your home.”

The witch lowered her head to face Edith again, her eyes nearly lost beneath her wrinkles when she smiled. “No trouble, my dear, no trouble at all. I love my visitors. I’ve been getting so many lately, wanting my help. It makes me feel so happy, you know? So loved… But enough about that. You have something you wish to ask of me, yes?” Her tiny eyes fell on the bag Edith had forgotten she was holding. It was only a little damp now, and it had stopped dripping.

“Y-yes, ma’am,” the woman stammered, wringing the loose burlap and cradling the lump at the bottom like a baby’s head. “I… I was t-told that… that you mend b-broken hearts.”

Though it seemed impossible, the witch grinned even wider. “I mend many broken things, my dear. Bones, minds, spirits… and, yes, I do mend hearts. They are my specialty as you can no doubt see.” She swept one of her bony arms around in a grandiose manner. Edith managed to pull her eyes away from the witch’s awful visage and focus instead on the wall behind her.

It was covered in dozens of human hearts. Dangling from strings pinned to the wood, they were all in various states of decay from freshly removed to nothing more than blackened, shriveled prunes. Some were laced up with little white stiches; some were driven through with long brown nails; some were filled to the brim with a liquid binder than had hardened into stone. All of them beat and pulsed silently on their strings as if they were cocoons about to hatch.

“But I am confused, Eedie, dear,” said the witch, startling Edith from her rapt study of the heart wall. “I sense no broken heart in you. You have a loving husband, your children adore you, and your friends treat you like a beloved sister. What could you possibly need me to mend?”

The woman gulped and gripped the bag more tightly, finding it difficult to look the hideous creature in the eye.

“It… it’s not m-my heart that needs mending,” she said. “It… it’s my daughter’s.”

A fold of skin above the witch’s left eye raised like an eyebrow. “Oh?”

Edith nodded quickly. “Y-yes, you see… She had a fiancé, a kind, generous man, or, at least, we thought he was… Anyway, th-they were to be married not a fortnight ago, but, at the ceremony… he was nowhere to be found. Nor was the dowry my husband was to give him in exchange for our daughter’s hand. It was… quite clear what had happened. He had stolen the gold and run off, leaving our daughter alone at the altar. As it is… she has not left her bed in nearly a week and refuses to eat anything we give her. This morning, she said that… she wanted to die, that she would… starve herself if she must, so terrible was it to live without the man she thought she loved. I… hated seeing her so miserable. I feared waking up one of these mornings to find my beautiful little girl… to find her…” She refused to say it. Sniffing deeply and blinking away her tears, she looked back at the witch. “I had to do something. I heard strange stories whispered around the village about a witch that could mend what was broken. I learned the methods it took to find her and the enormous risk it meant in getting there. I even saw what happened to the poor folks who… didn’t please her, supposedly. But it was the promise from others that she mended broken hearts that steeled my resolve. If anyone could save my daughter… it would be you. And, so, here I am, asking with all my soul… Please, please mend my daughter’s broken heart. Heal her and give her back the happiness she so deserves. Please.”

Edith stopped, winded from her emotional outpouring. She stared desperately at the witch, waiting for an answer. The creature stared back for a long moment. When she finally responded, it was after a long sigh and a slow shake of her malformed head.

“Ah, such compassion,” she said, “but so very misguided. My dearest Eedie, I’m sorry to tell you this, but I cannot mend your daughter’s heart.”

Edith’s stomach fell with a splash into the water around her ankles. “Wh-what? B-but I thought you- I thought you said-”

“I do mend broken hearts,” said the witch, “when they are presented to me by the owner of said heart. See how my children on the walls twitch and gasp for air? They were still alive when I held them in my loving, restorative hands. I cannot mend a secondhand heart like the one lying limp and rotting in that bag of yours. It is broken, yes, but it is also quite dead. Not even I can mend something back from dead, Eedie, dear.”

The rest of Edith’s organs tumbled from her body, leaving her cold and pale. “No, no, th-that’s not true. Mary, sh-she’s still alive, she was still alive when I-”

“Your daughter was dead the moment you split her chest open and ripped her unprepared heart from its cage.”

Edith was starting to shake, the damp bag in her hands growing heavier and slipping from her numb fingers. “But… but sh-she wouldn’t get up… she wouldn’t leave the bed… so I thought, if I did instead… if I brought it to you… th-then…”

The witch shook her head again and sighed. “I’m sorry, my sweet little Eedie. Some things cannot be fixed, especially when you have broken them beyond repair.”

There really was a splash as Edith dropped the bag into the water. It filled up quickly and sank down into the murky depths. As a misty red cloud and a few dark bubbles foamed up through the liquid, something small and burgundy floated to the surface, bobbing like an apple with a large chunk bitten out of it. Falling to her knees, Edith dipped her hands into the water and cradled the still heart, watching as tears rained down around it.

“Mary… oh, God, my Mary, my baby girl… what have I done… no, no, Mary, what have I done…”

“Oh, dearie,” said the witch. There was a rather loud sloshing as the dark water rippled out around her. To her great shock, Edith felt long bony arms wrap around her as the witch pulled her into an embrace. She stiffened against the creature’s vile body, feeling pustules burst onto her clothes and little insects scatter over her hair. “Don’t cry, my love, don’t be so sad,” cooed the witch, caressing Edith’s hair in a motherly way. “Do you hear that? That sound like a thousand mirrors shattering at once? That’s your heart, Eedie, dear; that’s your heart breaking.”

Edith forgot about the witch’s unwanted embrace and looked back at the dead heart in her hands. Each time she remembered her daughter’s face – her withered blue eyes, the circles that darkened them, the fear that filled them as her mother drove the knife into her chest – Edith felt another piece of her own heart fall off into an endless, black abyss.

“There, there, all is not lost, my child,” said the witch softly into her ear. “I mend broken hearts, remember? That means that I could mend yours… if you would like me to.”

Edith grew quiet, the heart tumbling from her shaky fingers and floating away in the stagnant water. Blinking her bloodshot eyes, she glanced up at the witch’s smiling face. “Y-you can?”

The witch nodded. “As good as new. You just have to say the word. What do you say, Eedie, my love? Would you like Nana to make it all better?”

Edith sat motionless in the cold, thick water, trembling in the witch’s revolting hug. Her entire being felt like one large point of pain on the face of a dark, desolate world. She could feel it moving inside her, growing and turning to rot, threatening to consume her until it would have been merciful to just dunk her head into the dark pool around her and drown. Was this how her daughter felt in those last few days? Was this how Edith was doomed to feel for the rest of her life? Could she go on living with such pain?

Finally, in a whisper choked with tears, she said, “Please. Fix it.”

The witch let out a deep, unnerving laugh and wrapped her arms more tightly around the stricken woman. “As you wish.”

Sudden pain erupted in Edith’s chest. She gasped, tasting hot copper, feeling it slide up her tongue and dribble down the middle of her chin. Quaking more violently than before, she slowly looked down and saw the witch’s long fingers buried beneath her left breast. They wriggled around in her flesh, pushing in until the entire hand had disappeared into Edith’s body, pouring a dark cascade of blood into the water. Edith felt the terrible fingers coil like centipedes around something inside her, something warm and beating. With a sharp, moist squelch, they tore it from her body.

Edith’s vision dimmed around the edges, and all the sounds in the world fell to a low ringing. She saw her own heart, writhing with life and torn right down the middle, held in front of her face, the witch’s insectile fingers gripping it mercilessly. Feeling terribly weak, she slumped from the witch’s embrace and leaned back against her foul body, popping cysts and squishing a few beetles against the fetid flesh.

“Now, now, just hang in there, Eedie, my dear,” said the witch from very far away. “Nana’s gonna fix it all better, I promise. Just keep those pretty eyes open. Keep them open for Nana, okay?”

Edith tried her damnedest to do as the witch told her. She focused her tunneling vision on her detached organ, still miraculously beating the last of its juices out the severed arteries. The witch had retrieved a long silver needle and some white thread, and, with surprising dexterity and grace, she began to sew up the tear in the middle of the heart. Edith watched, fascinated, as the lines of stitches were drawn across the red flesh. After a while, the pain in her chest subsided, the blood falling from her mouth lessening to a drip. By the time the witch had finished, she reached up to touch her chest and found that the hole was gone. It did not hurt anymore, but she was left feeling strangely empty and a little cold.

“There we go,” said the witch, helping Edith to her feet. “See? That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

Edith shook her head vaguely, her eyes glassy and struggling to focus, staring around as if she had no idea where she was. Meanwhile, the witch slithered heavily through the water back to her wall of hearts. With the very needle and thread she had used to mend it, she hung Edith’s heart up with the others, the organ still silently pulsing against its skeletal stitches. Satisfied, the witch sat down in the water and smiled at her confused houseguest.

“Does it hurt anymore, Eedie, dear?” she asked.

Edith looked back at her and slowly shook her head. “No, ma’am.”

“Are you still sad?”

Another slow shake of the head. “No, ma’am.”

“Do you miss Mary?”

The woman blinked. “Who?”

The witch smiled, showing all of her wicked little teeth. “Good… Well, it’s been lovely having you here, my child, but it’s time to bid you adieu. The moon is moving quickly tonight, and I must catch up with it before the dawn catches me. You understand. Now run along, scurry back to your little village, don’t dawdle.”

Edith opened her mouth to say something only to quickly shut it, unsure of exactly what she wanted to say. All she knew for sure was that she was tired, physically and spiritually, and that she wanted to go home, maybe spend a few hours in the church confessional repenting for… whatever it was she had just done. Turning on hesitant feet, she passed through the fingernail curtain and waded in silence towards the front door. However, just as she pushed it open into the noiseless black night, the witch called out to her from behind.

“Oh, Eedie, before you go, I just want you to know this… Do you remember the bodies they found in the river, how they reasoned that they had somehow been my doing? Let me be clear with you. I mend what is broken. I have never broken a single thing in my life. Not a bone, not a mind, and certainly not a human life. However… whatever happens to the heartless soul that leaves my house… well, that is beyond my control. I suppose alligators are just… drawn… to the smell of a freshly opened body.” A laugh, a deep, sinister, knowing laugh. “Goodbye, Eedie, my love.”

As a chill ran up her spine like a long, bony finger, Edith spun around, only to find that the door – and the house she had come out of – was completely gone. No hanging carcasses, no flickering red candlelight, no monstrous witch. She stood alone in the center of an empty black pond, the moon shining balefully on the water like fresh tar, the only smells present being swamp muck and vegetation.

Before she had a chance to regain her senses, ripples glided over her ankles. Falling deathly still, Edith looked around and saw a dozen little pairs of stars dotting the water’s edge, round and glinting like hungry white eyes. As she let out a single, horrified breath, all the little stars simultaneously dipped into the muck, sending one final wave of ripples her way.

For one last moment, all was perfectly silent.

Credit To – MercuryCoatedVeins

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Victim of Changes

April 2, 2015 at 12:00 AM
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What if everything we thought we knew about angels and demons wasn’t quite true? What if they weren’t the timeless, immortal beings we had spent entire ages of human history thinking they were? This news would surely prove Earth-shattering in a far too literal sense as we find out on that fateful day. Hell may or may not lie in the physical world, but the shockwaves felt were on a very real scale when it all broke loose. That day started like any other; day traders hit the stock market en masse, children took to schools, the world turned as it had countless times before as far as we knew, and then it happened.

In a moment the mostly tranquil serenity of “the day to day” was shattered in favor of a cataclysmic tremor that took the entire planet by storm. It didn’t take long for the shaking to build from a menacing vibrato to something that might only be described as someone playing a drum solo over the surface of the Earth. Cities on every continent were subjected to the violent throes of a massive event. It was as if someone had pulled the rug out from under us except our streets, our structures, our whole lives had been unwittingly standing upon it. We had no idea this was a planetary phenomenon and that it was just the beginning.

With toppled skyscrapers and similarly ravaged smaller towns and byways, those of us unfortunate enough to have survived the initial wave of destruction would be met with a much more heinous fate. With our entire lives in ruin we were forced into what was left of the streets, many of which were mangled and torn. How many had actually survived was anyone’s guess at that point. Having been at work for a local chemical supply company in southeast Connecticut, several co-workers and I had managed to find our way from the rubble that used to serve as an office only to find that the once level parking lot had been reduced to utter ruin. We counted ourselves lucky to have made it even this far despite the bruises and scathes that plagued our bodies.

When the ground stopped convulsing and some of the dust gave way to enough visibility that we might take a head count, only some nine of us were in any condition to stand let alone walk. Though battered and bleeding from falls and scrapes we were at least still such a way that we might help ourselves or help each other. The rest rolled about the mosaic patterned concrete, bodies broken with the churning of pavement and the displacement of vehicles. As if on cue hand after hand dove into the pockets of khaki pants, buttoned shirts, and various purses for what has become a lifeline of modern man. The frantic shouts amounting to “What happened?!” broke a silence that until that moment we hadn’t realized was there. No sooner had the cell phones flashed from these varied crevices that we all realized each device was searching for service. Some began to panic right then and shake, slap, plead with or even abuse the devices in some vain attempt to force a connection that they might at least confirm the safety of their loved ones. Some turned to begin helping those who could not stand or who were trapped under the abundant debris, some fled after a brief declaration of finding their family, some without so much as a word left to parts unknown. It didn’t matter really. What we were to experience in the following days would have, and did, render the armies of the world powerless.

Then it happened. Without so much as a sound the oppressively large cloud of dust swirling about us was sucked skyward. The force of it pulled the very breath from our lungs. It was as if someone ran a vacuum overhead, and yet instead of disappearing that same cloud remained. That layer of debris now encompassing the sky didn’t belong and we knew it, but someone forgot to tell the shroud that. It didn’t take long for us all to begin exchanging wide-eyed glances at one another, and the twisted forms strewn amongst us wailing and clutching at themselves on the uneven ground. Those on the ground ranged from the unconscious with what looked to be only a head wound, to those with clearly broken limbs, two people pinned under cars, and one man had even been trapped between two large chunks of concrete that had shifted and clamped upon his shoulder. It felt like a lifetime and yet, suddenly, almost as if on cue, someone uttered what we were all thinking.

“What do we do?”

The resulting conversation was little more than a discordant, multifaceted exchange between a clutch of frightened office employees. From conjecture to what had just happened with the dust, and talk of figuring out what to do next, to three of them profusely apologizing as they ambled off to find their loved ones. The only answer was staring us in the collective face. Someone had to go for help while the remaining three did what they could for the ones unable to even stand until help was brought back. Volunteers weren’t exactly lining up to be the odd man out on this expedition into God knows what alone, but with no family to speak of and being the least injured of the remaining quartet loitering in this dilapidated lot, clearly, I was the best candidate.

It was obvious where I would look to go. There was a hospital some seven or eight miles away just outside of town. Maybe they couldn’t spare much but at the very least I would be able to tell someone where the others were and get help, and if not maybe they would let me have some supplies to bring back so we could help the wounded. We needed bandages, antiseptic, something to remove things like broken glass and other such foreign objects, food, water, and at the very least some sheets to either transport or cover up ourselves and the wounded when it got dark. Given the time of day being almost three in the afternoon it would likely not be long after I returned, assuming I returned in time, before it got dark.

As I turned from the others it was like stepping into another world entirely. It didn’t look any different than the lot that looked like the pavement had taken the form of an ocean momentarily. Buildings were toppled, the ground looked like it had been chewed on, and the air was still impossibly thick but something was different, something was missing. There weren’t any cars on this road, no people strewn around like discarded scraps at a banquet. It’s as if this area had been constructed for the sole purpose of whatever it was that had gone on that day. Walking, or hiking with the ruptures and crags that the ground was now pieced together in, at a pace best associated with meandering tourists due to the terrain proved to be far more difficult than I’d imagined but I had to keep going. People were depending on me to return with help and I couldn’t let them down.

Street after street it was all the same. Not a single vehicle, animal, person, body, or even any sign that they’d even been here before. Just toppled houses and trees strewn about like a messy child’s toys, the roots of which, in some cases, jutting from the ground like so many hands grasping in vain at a sky that couldn’t help them. I knew better. People lived in this area; I drove through these streets five days a week for the last six years passing by them both in and out of their homes. Not a day went by that I had failed to see at least someone hanging up laundry, or a dog in a yard, or birds and squirrels in the trees. I may not always have taken notice of these things, being so commonplace, but the stark realization that they were suddenly all absent was perhaps the most disturbing thing about this situation. I was convinced, mostly out of fear, that somehow they knew what was coming and had the good sense to get out of dodge while the getting was good. Maybe there had been something on the news and we at the warehouse just hadn’t heard. But then how far did they go? How far was far enough to escape this? I told myself not to think about that. I had to stay focused on finding help for those people back there. It was hope against hope that the hospital in this area hadn’t been decimated like virtually every other building I’d come across by then, but it was the best I could come up with at the time on my own wandering a landscape that had been so drastically altered from what I’d driven through almost every day for over half a decade now.

My trek continued with a near constant crackling of broken glass being stepped on. It helped to drown out what would have been silence aside from my breathing. The blisters were forming all over my hands from grabbing hold of tilted slabs of asphalt to traverse. It wasn’t until I reached the hospital that I began to really feel like this was no ordinary disaster. Where there should have been at the very least ruins playing homage to a place of medical care, there was simply a jagged hole in the ground. There wasn’t even anything that remotely resembled a building there. How could a twelve-floor hospital just vanish? All that was left was this tragic cavity in the terrain and the five-level parking garage that used to serve as a stacked parking lot for the late hospital.

“What do I do now?”
“Where did it go?”
“Why did this have to happen to me?”
“Was this really just an earthquake?”

In a silent frenzy the questions began racing through my mind. I didn’t have any answers, I didn’t have anything left. Having sunk to my knees in a mixture of shock and hopelessness, I found myself indulging in an activity I hadn’t even thought of since I was a child. I prayed. Silently at first, with my eyes closed and my chest heaving, but soon it progressed into the sobbing pleas of a man praying to a God he wasn’t even sure he believed in. Knelt on the uneven street, abused hands cupping a dirty face now streaked with tears and blacktop residue, I pleaded with a higher power for anything. For help, for an answer, for proof of existence, anything that might show me anyone was listening. Maybe the words were still hollow, maybe desperation revealed a very real level of faith that, until that very moment, hadn’t been a requirement to live and prosper, but at that moment I had nothing else.

For several minutes this went on until I regained what was left of my pride and composure. Feeling both silly and defeated I rose to my feet and found myself questioning the next course of action. Did I have it in me to look somewhere else? Could I go back to that parking lot empty handed and tell those people I gave up? I stood there weighing my options and ultimately settled on trying the police station. It wasn’t much of a choice at all. I couldn’t go back there without anything to show for it .I forced myself to resume the trudged exodus that became increasingly depressing. The police station may not contain all the medical supplies we might need, but maybe I would be able to salvage some food or water to bring back. It had dawned on me that by that time in the day the sun should have gone down. According to my phone it was after ten at night, and yet, the sky was still light as though it was midday. Stranger still was the fact that, despite the flowing cloak of earthy debris painting the heavens, everything was still illuminated.

Another couple of miles passed before my morale hit a low I didn’t think was possible. Not only had I failed to that point to find any supplies but now I was beginning to wonder if turning around and heading back wasn’t the better option. Even if I bring anything back with me, I had no options. The hospital had vanished. Would they believe me? Would it even matter to them that I tried if I came back empty handed? That inner struggle would most likely have continued on for some time if not for a violent force hurling me off the ground and into the air. It didn’t feel like the wind, but there’s no other way to describe it visually. I saw nothing and the force of whatever it was hadn’t blown into me so much as it had pulled me off my feet. The brutal rollercoaster included almost unbearable jolting turns that scrambled my insides and that feeling didn’t stop when I did. When this force came to a halt I recognized the area I was now dangling over. The toothy chasm, where once stood a hospital, was seemingly all too eager to have me. I was allowed one last look skyward before whatever had held me up decided to drop me.

That fall shouldn’t have been so lengthy but I remained untouched for must have been an hour or more. The breath had long been forced from my lungs, and yet I was still reeling from the sheer friction of the air as I hurled through it. It felt like belly flopping repeatedly and relentlessly. My lungs were continually assaulted and crushed by the impacts almost as fast as I could gasp and choke a breath before surging through another ghostly obstacle. If these objects were visible I didn’t know it since the entirety of the plunge was total darkness. I saw nothing, I heard nothing, I could do nothing but struggle for a half breath at a time and endure it being ripped from me in rapid succession until smashing into one last indiscernible barrier. I did not crash through this impediment, instead I was drawn into it after some moments of lying there in a vain attempt to catch my breath or rest in the hopes that the burgeoning pain across my being would subside.

As the mass absorbed me the burning in my chest had ceased to dominate my thoughts. I no longer craved oxygen; my lungs had forgotten the want to be filled. Despite the relief that represented I felt at a loss. Being passed through what felt like quick sand filled with broken glass should have been excruciating yet produced a dull ache I would scarcely have noticed if anything else had been going on. With everything that had happened to that point, I had failed to take notice of the blinding darkness preventing me from viewing the horrors I had felt. That all changed as I reached the other side of that grainy pool and found myself settled on the floor of another world; one crowded, filled with a radiant blue hue, the kind of climate you might expect on the South Pole, and the fervent screams accompanied by chaotic motion of a thousand intersecting tides. Chilled to the bone but otherwise, surprisingly, unscathed upon a cursory inspection of myself in the first bit of light I had seen in some time; I struggled to erect myself to a stand amidst the trampling feet and crashing waves of bodies. As if by some miracle I was plagued neither by the agony in the limbs I could feel twisting and snapping on that blind plunge, nor the chest that should have been long since caved in by the repeated blows against unseen partitions.

The chasm looked endless in all directions as well, and filled with panicked wailing that sounded akin to a jet engine. I tried to garner the attention of several people around me. Everything from shouting and swatting at them, to grabbing them by the shoulders and screaming in their faces, anything to get someone to tell me where we were and what was happening. I was met with a sort of vehement effort to ignore all this. Even while I howled in their faces most of them didn’t even look at me, those that did seemed not to care that they were being accosted. Everyone was pre-occupied with something. With each individual I wrestled to at least face me the same result was had. As my voice began getting sore from the vain attempts to get a response beyond the rare moment in which a pair of eyes might flick my way, an arctic worthy wind rolled through the ocean of bodies housed in the strange abyss. Despite the veritable throng of people amassed, the algid barrage bit me to my very core, flowing into me, around me, through me even. Just as the wave of torturous, mind scrambling shock began to subside, a booming voice dwarfed the cries of the crowd with ease cut through the cavernous expanse.

“Silence you simpering insects!”

This served to quell the miserable weeping of many, while only spurning others to double their efforts. My attention snapped behind where I had been facing, and to my horror an entire procession had amassed amidst the crowd. A dais upon a massive tread had somehow erected itself in mere minutes. Upon the throne sat a grotesque, bloated individual whose fanged sneer could be clearly seen even from my distance. Hairless with a skin of crimson sat the hulking form. Eyes of a solid white surveying the populace as a merchant might assess potential acquisitions. About the steps stood a considerably smaller, thinner framed creature with the scales of a reptile and a tangle of jagged horn-like protrusions about its head. Again the thunderous roar of a voice resonated through the expanse.

“Hail Mammon! Emperor of this realm and all others!” the voice once again pierced the air with such force it wasn’t just heard, but felt. “With the demise of the once indomitable lord of the depths, the abyss is mastered by another.” A brief pause by the prong-faced orator spurned a mixture of terror and suspense. Despite the fact that I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing I craved to know where this was and what all was happening. “With the deceiver’s time at hand a great battle raged for eons in the name of a successor to the throne,” a shudder inducing cackle broke the rhythm “and when the skirmish was done none stood above your master!” As the lightning strike-esque voice subsided the myriad of piteous cries surfaced again, this time louder than when I had first arrived. They were soon rendered inaudible by another blast from that sonic canon standing on the raised steps before that massive throne. “Mammon claims all, and you worthless, insignificant, subjects belong to him!” With that the serpent resembling creature began to cachinnate, only adding to the woeful reality.

My mind reeled. What was all this talk about emperors, battles, and eons? Where was I? Was that really an earthquake or something else? I didn’t want to accept the answers to the questions racing through my thoughts. I couldn’t accept them. Either the seemingly endless expanse had begun closing in on us all, or there was a massive influx of yet more poor who had suffered the same fate. Whichever it was, it forced us even closer together. Before long the pressure of being crushed against everyone else around changed from an uncomfortable situation to profuse agony. It felt like being locked in a vice that just kept tightening. My entire body was now on fire again. On all sides I was pinned by the helpless, wailing people and even without space enough sense the air between those writhing forms, still that sharp chill encircled me.

And that’s where I am now. The pressure increases almost constantly, and the sensation never tapers off. I don’t know what happened to those people in the lot. For all I know they managed to pick up and find help, cursing my name for never coming back. Better that I had died during the shaking that day. Better I had refused to leave that parking lot. Better anything other than this. What if everything we thought we knew about angels and demons wasn’t quite true? What if they weren’t the timeless, immortal beings we had spent entire ages of human history thinking they were? Ignorance truly is bliss.

Credit To – Davemeddlehed

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A Prayer to St. Robert

April 1, 2015 at 6:00 PM
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Erica McCay was an odd girl. Fiercely clever and shy by nature, she was most unlike the others who filled her quiet Californian suburb.
Even when she was growing up, the young Erica would never be seen without a book in her hand. At school she opted to spend time with the characters that inhabited her leather-bound literature over her loud and riotous peers. While her classmates spent long summers laughing and playing, Erica would shy away to her sanctuary; the library. Here Erica’s youthful mind was educated by the lessons of authors long since departed. The superficial and the fleeting blissfully passed by a girl who could relate more to the individuals painted by words than the swirling masses, who went whichever way the neon billboards told them.
Maybe it was her quiet introversion? Perhaps her passion for the flawed and deeply human characters she met in the classics? For any number of these reasons, Erica did not enjoy watching Iron Man 3.
Shuddering in her seat from the sound of explosion, deafened by an audience amused by wisecracks and revolted by caricatured characters she felt no immediate connection with; Erica regretted agreeing to tag along for a movie night with her classmates.
Glancing past her untouched small popcorn, her hosts Jade and Zara sat gaping and entranced by the action unfolding before them. Erica sighed; loathe to complain, she stole a glance at her watch and sat back to imagine the inviting smell of the lightly yellowed pages that awaited her at home…
Outside the cinema Erica tapped her foot gently as her friends discussed the film.

“Oh wow, and that bit was like too awesome!”

“Oh you bet- and wasn’t Robert just gorgeous?”

“Totally! What did you think Erica?”

Erica snapped from her daydream.

“Uh yeah,” she fumbled “It was super, but I don’t really understand the fuss about that man, Robert Downey, wasn’t it?”
At once the boisterous laughter ceased. Jade and Zara glared blankly.

“Is something wrong?”

The eyes continued to stare, their pupils black with a malignant hatred.
Erica’s shaking voice betrayed her anxiety.
“Well, it was nice of you to invite me; I’ll see you both in school- goodbye!”
With that she turned on her heel and walked briskly away, once far enough glancing over her shoulder to where the cold gazes bore into her still.
“People,” muttered Erica as she closed the gate firmly behind her.

Erica’s room was neatly furnished. Her single bed lay adjacent a desk piled high with literature in stacks marked ‘reading’ and ‘re-reading’. A keen musician, Erica’s second-hand piano faced a wall where pins held small compositions of her own creation. A modest laptop from which Erica maintained a literary review blog was placed at the end of the bed.
Having never been to the cinema before that night, Erica decided to mark the occasion with a review.

Listing her grievances, Erica remembered the strange behaviour of her classmates. As a footnote she added: “Does anyone else think this Robert Downey Jr is a little over-acclaimed?”
Relieved after releasing her pent up frustration, Erica shut off her lamp and curled up to sleep.

Was it the sound of a car pulling up in her empty driveway? The footsteps as an intruder casually pushed open the door and strode into her room? The flickering light as the piano’s reading lamp switched on? Or perhaps it was the well rehearsed thudding of fingers upon keys as the melody of River shattered the silence.

Erica’s eyes widened, she sat bolt upright in bed and stared in horror at none other than Robert Downey Jr himself.

“Ah,” he smiled, catching her horrified reflection in the window pane.
“Rise and shine honey, you’ve a big day ahead of you,” Robert said warmly.

“It’s 3 am…” Erica countered meekly. This had to be a ridiculous dream she assured herself.
“Yup,” Robert stood up, closing the piano lid, “May I?” he asked and without waiting he sat down on the foot of her bed.

“Good tune that,” Robert indicated to the piano, “played that song on Ally McBeal- you ever watched,” he trailed off as Erica’s eyes betrayed her ignorance.
“Perhaps not.”

Rubbing her eyes, Erica took a look at her uninvited visitor who wore red shades with a blue pinstriped suit. Recently dry-cleaned, she noted.

Robert leaned over, his thick aftershave making Erica gag.

“Breakfast? Like I said, gonna be a long day.”

His impeccable toothy grin reminded Erica of a shark’s jaw kept in the science department of the library.
Erica waved him away and reached for her phone.
“What are you doing here? You shouldn’t be here at all-”

Robert caught her hand midway and pulled her round to face him. His smile vanished as suddenly as he’d arrived.

“I heard- read rather- that you’re not a big fan of mine,” Robert lowered his stony gaze to meet Erica’s.

“Well I- oh God,” stammered Erica as her eyes welled up in fear “Please don’t hurt me.”

“Mmm, don’t worry,” Robert’s reassuring smile crept back across his face, “Why don’t we go for a short drive, talk about the problem you’re having?”

Erica noticed the rumble of the engine in the driveway.

“Why don’t we head out, are you ready, uhm, Eren?” Robert stood and patted down his suit.

“It’s Erica”

“Yeah, whatever, I haven’t all night kid.”
“Who said I was going?”

With that, Erica snatched a hardback book from the floor and heaved it at Robert’s head. His shades shattered on impact, a trail of blood oozed from a cut beside his eye.

Swearing violently he steadied himself against the desk and toppled a pile of books.

Erica leapt to her feet and darted out the door as Robert roared after her.

“Is this real? Am I dreaming?” Erica remarked aloud, pinching herself to no avail.
Not stopping to lift her shoes, Erica threw open the door and was blinded by the glare of a spotlight mounted on a parked van.
Dazzled, Erica looked around wildly, blurred shadows scurried from the van.

“On your knees,” a voice ordered as jackbooted feet closed in around her.

Erica dropped to her knees and began to cry as she felt armed and uniformed guards of some description closing in around her.
“It’s alright, stand down.” Robert’s voice sounded more composed as he strode quickly from the front door and put an arm soothingly around Erica.

“Why are you doing this to me?” Erica looked at him tearfully.

“It’s okay, you’ve nothing to worry about,”

Erica cried out as she felt a piercing sting in her arm.

“Don’t worry, shh, I’m on your side,” Robert whispered reassuringly, withdrawing an empty syringe.

As the faces crowded around blurred into one and darkness closed in around her, Erica could hear him murmur.

“I’m on your side.”

Erica felt like she’d slept for a week as she slowly regained consciousness in a modestly furnished room.
Blinking away her drowsiness, Erica could see that the room was distinctly institutional. The wallpaper was soothing beige, the furniture was plain and unbranded, and the decoration was milky and bland.

One window allowed a stream of warm Californian sunlight into the room, however, as Erica noted, the window was small and clearly secured to prevent escape.
A series of grunts attracted Erica’s attention to the open door.
Erica strained to sit upright in her bed and looked on in horror as Robert Downey Jr, his neatly manicured facial hair dripping with the sweat of exertion, performed pull-ups using a horizontal bar in the doorframe.

His body was hard and wiry from working out and his tight black undershirt was damp from exercise.

Erica shut her eyes and slowly lay back down, hoping he hadn’t noticed her awakening.

“So are you going to behave this time around?” Robert boomed.

“Shit,” breathed Erica.

“Okay!”
Robert lowered himself down from the bar, mopped his brow and slung on a loose cream sweater that hung from the door handle.
“What do you want with me?” Erica narrowed her eyes and tried to conceal her gripping fear.

“Well how about we just talk something over,” Robert reached over and swung the desk chair beside Erica’s bed and sat down.

“If I do will you let me go?”

Robert scrunched up his face playfully.

“Now, that really depends.”

“On- on what?” Erica frantically looked about for an escape route and eyed the open door.

Robert looked at it too before fixing her with a cruel smirk.

“You didn’t like my movie.”

“What?”

“You. Didn’t. Like. My. Movie,” Robert mouthed, “Y’know? Iron Man 3- the one you made the [i] oh so adorably quirky [/i] remark about?”

“So am I not allowed an opinion? Is this a joke?” Erica prayed that it was.

“Oh of course you’re allowed an opinion,” smiled Robert, “but I’d prefer a more positive one.”

Erica was confused but indignant.

“So basically you’re saying you can restrict [i] my [/i] human right to free speech? That’s against the law- as is kidnapping. You’re going to be in lots of trouble.”

Robert’s facial hair twitched in amusement.

“Well, yeah, so long as no-one finds out. At the end of the day, do people care more about some kid’s right to free speech, or the world’s highest paid movie star? Check and mate.”

“Why are you keeping me here?”

“I’m trying to teach you about self-restraint,” Robert said seriously, “I mean, yeah you can post whatever shit you think online but do you [i] need [/i] to? Say I knew this fantastic bakery that made a real good chocolate cake; I need to resist the urge to carpet bomb my colon with it if I don’t want to look puffy for a movie or cover shoot.” Robert gave a rather good-living Californian viewpoint on the situation.

Erica couldn’t bear the superficial analogy. Had she been imprisoned here over a movie? It was absurd.
Robert picked up a suitcase and opened it, showing Erica the contents.

“You see this,” Robert pointed to the vials of scented herbs and tablets. “It’s all natural, I am dedicated to being as healthy as possible.”

“What are you talking about- what even are you?” Erica screamed in frustration.

“A genius” smiled Robert “billionaire, playboy philanthropist.”

“Arrrrrgh!”

It was too much for Erica; Robert was even more insufferable than his character in Iron Man 3.

Maybe it was the manicured facial hair? The wiry body? The good living, healthy lifestyle? Maybe it was the weighty self-importance in action before her.

Erica dashed from the room as a laughing Robert made no attempt to stop her.

“The corridor is locked down, don’t trouble yourself,” he called after her.

Erica frantically looked about. The corridor was spacious, well lit and sedately coloured. It was lined with secure doors.
Filled with curiosity she approached one and peered in the narrow letterbox window.
Inside Erica saw a girl about her age. She was seated on a narrow bed, staring fixatedly at a screen playing Ally McBeal scenes featuring Robert Downey Jr. When one ended, the girl feverishly rewound it. The room was plastered with newspaper cuttings and posters of Robert; A crude temple in honour of her captor.

“Sweet, isn’t it?” said Robert. “When she came in here she thought it was the TV equivalent of a colonoscopy, see the difference now though?”

“What is this place?” gasped Erica.

“St. Robert’s Institute for the Delusional and Objectionable. RDJ for short.” Robert smiled at his own ingenious wit.
Erica suddenly remembered the glazed expressions of her classmates that night at the cinema.
“What did you- is this what you did to my friends? Why?”

“Sometimes, if you’d believe it, there are people who just don’t love me, Erin,” Robert began.
“It’s Erica…”

“Look, kid, I don’t care,” Robert continued “and sometimes these people just need a bit of help, a little prompting to realize how much they adored me after all- hell, I’m not the world’s most loved actor for nothing. It takes the right mix of charisma, charm and psychoactive drugs.”
Erica couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Her classmates and countless others had been brainwashed and transformed into mindless, autonomous drones who worshipped Robert Downey Jr, and now, she would face the same fate.
She started backing away.
“No way! Oh God, look I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean a word I said! I don’t even know why I said it- really I love your work. Oh please don’t do this to me.”

Robert reached out his hand.

“I’m just trying to help you; here at St. Robert’s we only want what’s best for everyone.”

Erica thought about the life she’d leave behind- what about her sharp intellect? Her passion for literature? Her individuality? It was more than she could take.
Robert signalled to two orderlies at the end of the corridor.

“You don’t have to do this!” Erica wailed pitifully.

“Yes I do, you all need me; each and every one of you. You will thank me for this, I promise,” Robert said reassuringly.
Erica whimpered as the orderlies lifted her up from the floor. Robert loaded a syringe gun with a green vial.

Erica no longer made a sound, she no longer had any tears left to cry and her sobs were empty rasps. She looked up for the last defiant time as Robert whispered:

“It’ll be okay. I’m on your side.”

The pain was momentary as the vial emptied into Erica’s neck.

Erica felt the coldness seeping through her; she felt all of her fear melting away, every defiant thought evaporating.
Robert’s smile looked warmer now, friendlier. After all he only wanted what was best for her- for everyone! He was talented, considerate and kind. He stood for all that mankind should aspire to be and he cared for everyone who loved him, so, so much.

Erica smiled too; she had nothing to be afraid of. She felt dizzy though and Robert stepped in to steady her. His eyes were dark and brown and full of concern. Erica could do nothing but melt away into their chocolate haze…
Erica was at school the very next week; she was a lot more outgoing now. She fitted in very well at school with her two new best friends, Jade and Zara. She never went to the library anymore, in fact she rarely read anything that wasn’t a promotional piece or interview for Robert. Her room was decorated with all of Robert’s posters.

“Like wow,” said Jade, “You have even more than me!”
“I guess,” smiled Erica, “They make me feel safe.”

Robert gave her strict instructions when she was released from the institution so every night before bed, Erica would look on her social networking page and report anyone who didn’t appreciate her new idol to the St. Robert’s Admissions Office.

“I guess Jade and Zara must have done that for me,” Erica said dreamily as she shut off her laptop.

She stood facing her life-size cut-out of Robert.

Erica whispered softly.

“Thank you Robert. Thank you for saving me.”

And before she fell asleep, she was sure she could hear him whisper in reply.

“I’m on your side.”

Credit To – PoisonGallery

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The Tipping at Twilight

April 1, 2015 at 4:00 PM
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On a cold, windy winter evening, I sat at home, rapidly typing away on my computer. I had set up a rather quaint little blog for myself, and it was getting pretty popular. My latest post was discussing gender equality, or rather inequality. You know, it’s pretty hard to be a woman. The constant catcalling when you walk down the street, the consistent online name-calling when playing the latest Call of Duty, and the worst thing of all, the fake relationship circle made up by basement-dwelling nerds. The friend zone. I finished the post at around 6:30, and quickly posted it to my blog, “thepersecutedwoman.blogspot.com”. In no time at all, the post blew up, with people voicing their support from all over the world. I felt pretty proud of myself, until I saw a comment that made me stop in my tracks. It wasn’t anything disturbing, it was simply the letter “M”. The poster of the comment’s profile picture contained the all-too-familiar neck bearded face, but something about it was different. Instead of the friendly, cheerful eyes of “fedora guy” I saw bloody, mangled, sockets. Two objects that appeared to be Doritos were stabbed into the empty sockets. A plastic tube stuck through a hole in his cheek and it had a strange green fluid pumping through it. The mere sight of it made me want to vomit. Who chooses something like that for a profile pic? The name attached to the picture was, “Nicest Guy”. “Yeah I bet.” I thought to myself. A shiver went down my spine.

Thirty minutes later, another comment by the same poster appeared. The letter “L”. I heard a chip-crunching sound from outside my window. By this point I was getting unnerved, but I went and watched some funny YouTube videos and then returned to my blog 30 minutes later. Another comment appeared. This was the letter “A”. I looked outside my window and saw a black fedora hanging from a branch of a tree. I wonder how that got up there? The letter “D” was next, and I heard the sound of a liter bottle of soda being opened from downstairs. This was the turning point. I locked the door to my room and tried to call 9-1-1. Crap. My phone was dead. At this point I quickly looked back at my computer. The last comment. The letter “Y”. Now I realized what was happening. All the comments spelled “M’lady”. I heard someone walking up the stairs, I turned off my light. I heard someone walking towards my room, I hid under the bed. Suddenly there was silence. It was deafening. I started to cry. The door knob slowly started to turn. I thought it was locked! A dark figure stepped into the room. It was so dark I couldn’t make out what it was or what it was doing, but suddenly, lightning flashed outside and I saw something that I will never forget. The hideous creature grabbed the brim of his hat, and the tipping intensified.

Credit To – Joseph Rogers

NOTE: This was initially posted on Crappypasta, but it received such a positive response there already that I decided to go ahead and use it for this year’s Parodypasta posting spree. Given that the story would have likely hit the mark for being eligible to be called a Crappypasta Success Story anyhow, it seemed silly to force the author to wait an entire year to see it posted for April Fools 2016. Here is the original post at Crappypasta, for those who are interested!

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“Rumours” – A Talking Angela Survivor Story

April 1, 2015 at 2:00 PM
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“Rumours” A Talking Angela Survivor Story – Story Time With Solar Rab!

This is a video pasta. If the embedded video is not loading for you, please click the link above to go directly to the video’s YouTube page and try watching it there.

Credit To – Robert “Solar” Jamieson

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The Omnipotent

April 1, 2015 at 10:00 AM
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It is said that there are parts of this world that no human man, woman, or child can ever see or enter into. These places exist at the bottoms of oceans, in the centers of mountains, or just above storm clouds. Every once in a great while, there is a glitch in these places’ matrix – a flaw in what we might call the security system – and somebody stumbles through. Those unlucky individuals are never seen nor heard from again, for the odds of the same person accidentally entering and exiting one of the hidden gaps in space and time are so astronomical as to be impossible.

It is said that in these places, there live creatures so strange and complex that no one of this dimension could possibly understand them, unless the creatures chose to lower themselves to being understood. These creatures appear to be, physically, very much like humans, but their minds are infinitely more advanced. From a superficial glance, their society would seem to be almost primitive in nature, but it is in fact more properly functioning, peaceful, and progressive than any we could ever hope to achieve.

It is said that among the beings of this society, there is one whom they all hold esteemed and honored. His knowledge is infinite, for he is the seer and diviner of all things.

It is said that he takes visitors, to hear requests and, occasionally, grant them, for he can alter the fabric of reality and influence the decisions of the Fates. It is said that if a woman brings him three drops of a man’s blood, drawn by the thorn of a Molineux rose, he can make the man fall in love with her with a wave of his hands, and it is said that he can resurrect the dead with nothing but a snap of his fingers and the name written in India ink. He also has the ability to answer all questions, and many go to him seeking the truth about things past, present, future, and otherwise. There is one question, however, that this man will not answer. He knows, but will refuse to tell if you ask him, for the answer is unsafe in any hands but his own.

About now, I’m sure you’re wondering what that question is. But you already know it, really. If you think about it.

Would you like to take a guess?

Yes, that’s right:

“Who was phone?”

Credit To – Mycrella

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